Thursday, February 13, 2014

I Love You, Still

As I've toddled along with this blog, I - quite surprisingly and inadvertently - have found myself feeling the need to explain, rationalize or perhaps even apologize for where some of my obsessions come from. Obvious to any long-time reader here, I have a thing about 1970s disaster movies, elaborate hair, chiffon, all-star casts and several other things. One more obsession of mine is the carefully-arranged still photo of the cast from a TV series! This one is actually from the sub-par, but nevertheless welcome, Dynasty: The Reunion (1991), which at least gave a modicum of closure to the series which was cancelled with a cliffhanger. (Hey! At least I'm not like that chick on TV whose obsession in smelling and sucking on soiled diapers! Ha ha! She's out there. Look her up if you dare!)

In this case, the best I can figure is that I, as an only child of divorced parents, sought both order as well as teamwork and togetherness. All of my favorite comic books as a kid were team-oriented, with people coming together to tackle the enemy. My all-time favorite was The Legion of Superheroes (as I once delved into here.) Look at the way they are drawn (by Mike Grell) in this picture. I think at some point I transferred my affection for artwork like this onto those group shots you'd see in magazines (think the annual TV Guide Fall Preview issue!) I also have always liked tangible items like this that allow me to "have" the people and things I adore available to me. My recent post of TV and movie star Mexican cards whetted my appetite for more photos like those, so now we'll take a look at some.

Another sort of "team" was The Impossible Missions Force of the long-running Mission: Impossible (1966-1973.) Though silver daddy Peter Graves was not the initial leader of the team, he and his friends shown here were the group that made the show a hit and a household name.

I dearly love the expressions and body language of that same quintet in this pose below. I don't think I consider Barbara Bain the same caliber of actress that Emmy voters did (she took home three in a row!), but she certainly gave awesome face on the series!
Later, Graves was head of a reconfigured team, this time with Leonard Nimoy, fresh off of Star Trek, and Lesley Ann Warren, best known to that point for playing Cinderella in 1965.
Do you recall when this series was revitalized in 1988? Conceived as a way around a costly writer's strike (and filmed in Australia to boot!), it sought to refilm existing scripts from the old show with a few changed words here and there! The strike ended in time for that initial approach to only occur four times and the show ran for two seasons. In a first, one of the regular agents (Terry Markwell, the female) was killed on the show and replaced by Jane Badler for the second season. One neat twist, though, was having Greg Morris' real life-son Phil Morris play his character's son in the redux.

Of a similar nature, falling in between the old MI and the new version, was Today's F.B.I. (1981-1982.) Though this little-known show starring Mike Connors was not a hit, I recall loving it as a young teen for its teamwork aspects. The female agent here (Carol Potter) would later appear in the early seasons of Beverly Hills 90210.

That very same season brought still another lesser-known, group effort crime-fighting show, this one called Strike Force (1981-1982) and starring Robert Stack.  The way the agents are all lined up in the corner photo made me happy. Note that MI, F.B.I. and Strike Force all featured a trusty veteran, a black guy, a woman and two other men... sticking to formulas they believed would work!

Let's switch gears for a moment to enjoy some classic comedy series portraits. It's fun to see the gang from I Love Lucy (1951-1957) looking happy and healthy and in color.
Likewise, this color shot of the male cast of The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) is appealing.
My Three Sons ran from 1960-1972 and had quite a few cast changes along the way.  Even this shot was taken after the oldest son left (replaced by the adopted Ernie) and original helpmate William Frawley gave way to William Demarest.
By the time the show went off the air, the cast was far more crowded indeed, with wives, children and so forth (but, alas, in this shot, not my beloved Don Grady!)
I enjoyed seeing this portrait of The Clampetts from The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971) posing with their frequent foil Mr. Drysdale and the ever-trusty Miss Jane Hathaway. You can find more about Miss Irene Ryan here.
Here we have the cast of McHale's Navy (1962-1966.) Do you spot future stars Tim Conway and Gavin McLeod amongst the men? There's also handsome Edson Stroll, who you can see a bit more of right here!
How fun is this picture of Bewitched (1964-1972)that has the nosy neighbors The Kravitzes in it with Darren and Samantha? I do think Sam should have wriggled her nose and done something about the state of Tabitha's dolls hair, however!
This second portrait isn't posed in the manner that most of the rest of these are, but I couldn't resist sharing it because of the amusing expressions in it and how attractive Elizabeth Montgomery looks.
Here's a color shot of another supernatural set of relatives, The Addams Family (1964-1966.)
Of the photos in this post today, I think this one might be the most beautiful. I love everything about it: the colors, the lighting, the staging... Whenever I catch Gilligan's Island (1964-1967) now, I find it startling idiotic for the most part, but I loved it as a kid and have a residual fondness for the cast.
This is also a fun, colorful portrait of all the folks from Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (1967-1973.)
What about this rare shot of the men from The Brady Bunch (1969-1974)?  Taken right at the beginning of the series, it has youngest son Mike Lookinland sporting the brown wig he was initially made to wear!
By the time the long-running Happy Days (1974-1984) left the air, there was precious little remaining of the initial cast of characters. Though he was unfairly maligned as being part of this show's (and others!) decline, the divine Ted McGinley was one gorgeous looking man. Look at that face!
Running just as long was The Jeffersons (1975-1985), a spin-off of All in the Family. Though she was only on the first two seasons before falling ill with lung cancer and dying soon after, Zara Cully (a nonsmoker) was a total hoot as Mother Jefferson.
The Facts of Life (1979-1988), a Diff'rent Strokes spin-off, underwent radical changes after its first season. Four girls were fired from the show, leaving three, and then a new fourth one (Nancy McKeon) was hired. Later, health problems forced Charlotte Rae to leave the series, which Cloris Leachman then took over.  I'm sure we all recognize the handsome devil next to Lisa Welchel, who made seventeen recurring appearances on the show.

This is an early photo from Family Ties (1982-1989), taken when (a beardless!) Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter still thought they were going to be the stars of the show rather than the young Michael J. Fox, who soon became the chief focus of storylines and publicity.

Night Court, as seen below, ran from 1984-1992 and John Larroquette won four consecutive Emmys for his smarmy character.
The Golden Girls debuted in 1985 and was an instant hit, running until 1992. There are tributes here to Bea Arthur, Betty White and Rue McClanahan if you're inclined to read more about them!
Miss White is the last remaining Girl alive and now has the wise-cracking old lady part on the remarkably successful TVLand series Hot in Cleveland (2010-present.)
You can never be sure who you're going to run into in these old shots. This one from Gunsmoke (1955-1975) includes the young and handsome Burt Reynolds, who was a semi-regular on that stalwart series from 1962-1965 before later emerging as a top movie star. (His character on the show was called "Quint," which inspired him to name his adopted son Quinton in 1988.)

Another long-running western was Bonanza (1959-1973.)
Like many shows, it endured a series of cast changes over the years. I don't know how much this latter day publicity shot actually made it to print across America since Michael Landon's naughty bits are practically on full display here!
My own favorite western series is The Big Valley (1965-1969), whose cast was not only great looking, but shared tremendous chemistry with one another in any combination.
Family shows often have sprawling casts to fill up a group photo. Here we see an early gathering of The Waltons (1971-1981.) By the time the kids grew up and married and the semi-regular townspeople continued to be seen, the number of people on the show increased even further.
A childhood favorite of mine was Eight is Enough (1977-1981), which also had a large cast. Faced with an early hurdle (the mother on the show, Diana Hyland, died after only four episodes), Betty Buckley was brought on as a new (step)mother and the show went on to reasonable success. (Of course, Grant Goodeve, at the top, was my favorite and my chief reason for tuning in!)

Looking at some crime-fighters for a moment, we see the cast of The Mod Squad (1968-1973.)
This is an early portrait of the triad which made up Charlie's Angels (1976-1981.) Remarkably, this configuration of ladies only occurred during the first season, with Farrah Fawcett departing (but forced to come back for a series of guest appearances.)
I had to include this hilarious additional shot (so to speak) of the gals, which looks as if it could have been snapped by Laura Mars!
Do you know who these ladies are? What if I told you they were the initial choices to be Charlie's Angels? No, I'm only yanking your chain. This is the cast of a lesser-known show called Flying High (1978-1979), all about the romantic, funny and sometimes adventurous escapades of three airline stewardesses. Connie Selleca would later score with The Greatest American Hero (1981-1983) and Hotel (1983-1988), while blonde Pat Klous would fill-in for a terminated Lauren Tewes on The Love Boat from 1982-1986. The third girl, Kathryn Witt didn't fare as successfully, with only sporadic work afterwards.

As a fan of large cast shows, I adored L.A. Law (1986-1994) when it premiered, as did many viewers.
Lifeguards came and went like the tides on Baywatch (1989-2001), a series I never watched, but I include this picture for the beefcake value of dreamy blond David Chokachi
This is a shot from a very little-known show called Empire (1984), meant to satirize the corporate greed that signified the 1980s. It only lasted for six episodes, perhaps because no one "got" the joke that being greedy was wrong?
Another obscure series was The Most Deadly Game (1970-1971), which concerned three criminologists solving unusual crimes. Designed as a showcase for Inger Stevens, she committed suicide after filming the pilot and so Yvette Mimieux was brought in on the fly to reshoot the pilot and costar in the series, but it was gone after only 13 episodes.
We're going to finish out this rondolet of randomness with a string of portraits from one of my favorite genres, the prime-time soap opera! For me, there is nothing more fun than a bunch of glammed-up people posing dramatically for the camera to promote their show. The grandmama of prime-time soaps was Peyton Place (1964-1969) and this is a casual pose of all the available cast members on that given shooting day.

The genre really didn't come alive again until Dallas hit the airwaves in 1978, lasting until 1991. This portrait is from 1981, not long after series patriarch Jim "Jock Ewing" Davis passed away.

Several of the actors were back in 2012 for a redux of the show, which is still running, and I was startled to find that it really wasn't bad! The funeral episode for Larry "J.R. Ewing" Hagman was particularly great and included even more people from the old series.
Dallas' success led to a spin-off series (which, oddly enough, had been conceived first! Dallas was built from the backstory of the character of Gary Ewing) called Knots Landing (1979-1993.) This is why its conception came so quickly and easily on the heels of Dallas. The show had already been developed to a certain point. This hooty shot is from the 1982-'83 season.
Falcon Crest (1981-1990) was nestled in to a time slot directly after Dallas, which made for a nice one-two punch on Friday nights. Jane Wyman won the role of iron-willed matriarch Angela Channing after Barbara Stanwyck declined the part. (Babs made a a return to TV in 1985 with the prime-time soap The Colbys, but soon regretted it, departing after one season.) In Falcon Crest's pilot, Clu Gulager and Samantha Eggar played the roles that ultimately went to Robert Foxworth and Susan Sullivan.

Another staggering success during this period was Dynasty (1981-1989), which upped the ante on glitz and glamour. The shot below is from the 1982-'83 season.
This one from 1983-'84 shows off Joan Collins' new, shorter hair and evidence of the stiff and "stately" posing that the actors were encouraged to do in order to suggest a high class demeanor.
This 1985 shot confronts us with the sadly deteriorating Rock Hudson, the fullback shoulder pads of Linda Evans and a necklace that Ali MacGraw kept on hand in case a ping pong tournament suddenly broke out!
As these warhorses were running out of steam, a new type of soap was coming along, though I didn't watch it myself.  Beverly Hills 90210, a youth-oriented series, ran from 1990-2000. (This early cast shot doesn't even include Luke Perry! Or Tori Spelling, for that matter...)
A follow-up series that spun off from 90210 was the successful Melrose Place (1992-1999.)
But you've all probably seen these photos time and again. Next, I will put forth some prime-time soaps that failed to catch on. These pictures are even more interesting when you consider that the casts should have attracted an audience, but didn't... A huge flop in 1975 was the Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1975) rip-off Beacon Hill. Today's Downton Abbey-loving viewers might have nibbled at it a bit more, but it limped along for only 13 episodes before being cancelled.

The upper class players are shown above, while here we see the servants gathered together.
In 1980, NBC tried to get in on the game (CBS and ABC were enjoying great success) with Flamingo Road, but it just never made it the way others had.  It was cancelled by 1982.
At the start of 1983, NBC tried to launch Bare Essence, which had first seen life several months before as a successful miniseries on CBS. The series (with several key roles recast - i.e. no Linda Evans, Donna Mills or Lee Grant!) couldn't make it beyond 11 episodes. (And I'm sorry about the shoddy quality of this photo, but I couldn't find a decent-sized, clean group shot!)
They tried once more in 1983 with a western-set soap called The Yellow Rose. Despite its promising cast of actors, it was off the air after 22 episodes.
Still, CBS wasn't without failure either. In 1983 they launched Emerald Point N.A.S., with the promise of some handsome naval hunks like Charles Frank and Andrews Stevens and it tanked! Like Yellow Rose, it lasted for only 22 episodes.
And ABC had its own problems with Paper Dolls (1984), an ultra-glitzy examination of the modeling world. It limped along for 14 episodes before its demise...
Yet another failed attempt by NBC at a prime-time soap was Berrenger's in 1985. Centering on a high-end department store and the family who ran it, the show was yanked after 11 episodes had aired. (Do check out Yvette Mimieux's hair! And how could anything with Ben Murphy not succeed?  Jeesh!)
The network's last ditch effort to establish a prime-time soap came in 1991 when they re-envisioned a daytime favorite with a vast cult following.  Dark Shadows came and went in just a couple of months with a dozen episodes broadcast. Today's vampire-loving TV viewers might have sunk their teeth into this, but at the time, few people were biting...
Today's series still use promotional shots like these, often better, naturally, but I like the old fashioned ones (surprised?) Nevertheless, Modern Family (a contemporary show that I do watch) seems to have a lot of fun with their group photos. So I leave you with these and hope that you enjoyed this meditation on still photos!


angelman66 said...

I love those still full-cast assemblies, too! A great round-up you've presented!!

One of my personal fetishes are those big anniversary photos that the studios used to do - MGM's 25th anniversary luncheon with all the stars in heaven posing together...the That's Entertainment 1974 grouping...the Oscars do it too, most notably for the 70th and 75th anniversaries--the old stars mixing with the new. Vanity Fair often does this type of thing too, and it always gets me excited, I don't know why!

Poseidon3 said...

I'm right there with you, angelman! I'll never forget when the Oscars did that first "Oscar's Family Album" and panned through the massive collection of stars up on stage, showing their name. That appeals to my "thing" about opening credits of TV shows that depict the stars (and sometimes guest stars.) Thanks much! :-)

BloggerJoe said...

I remembered all of these shows. When I was growing up, we didn't have cable in the rural area I lived in, so I learned about the shows by reading TV Guide.

Gingerguy said...

A pretty great posting and channeling "Laura Mars" for "Charley's Angels" made my inner 13 year old a little light headed.

Poseidon3 said...

Ha Ha! Thank God someone got it!!!

Basil said...

I got the Laura Mars reference right away. lol

Great post (and great blog). I loved the TV Guide fall preview edition, back when they had it in print. Loved it when I was a kid. And I am not ashamed to admit, that I watched most of those failed night time soaps from the 80's. Paper Dolls and Emerald point were my favourite.